Almanac Cycling: Rio Selection

 

Having your name called out for National selection in an Olympic year is the culmination of many years of personal and physical sacrifice, of not just performing at an elite level in a high performance environment but excelling in it. The feeling when selected I presume is one of relief and excitement. Relief because the effort has been rewarded and excitement because the journey ahead is what they desired.

 

A cyclist’s career is built around the Olympic cycle, this is the biggest sporting event of your life, World Championships come around every year, but the Olympics are when your sport shines on the International stage, when you receive National and International attention. It is also the hopes and dreams realised for the supporters of the athletes, the families that have sacrificed financially and emotionally and for many the support continues long after the games are over, they know this is the objective of every athlete, to make an Olympic team and to represent your country.

 

To make an Olympic team is the ultimate selection, the single biggest motivator in coping and dealing with the thousands of kilometres in training, the endless physio treatments, the isolated training schedules, early mornings, pushing yourself and your body to extremes you didn’t know existed.

 

In sport there are the winners and for every win there has to be a vanquished. How do these people cope knowing that they’re best is just not good enough?

 

To know that you are in contention for team selection and to be told weeks out from the World’s Biggest Sporting Carnival that your efforts fell short. What do you do, how do you feel and how do respond to your team mates that you now have to actively support?

 

As a neutral observer, I am excited for the cyclist’s that were selected and yet now after hearing the team selections feel tremendously disappointed for those who missed out. Shane Perkins in the Men’s Sprint team, Kaarle McCulloch the Women’s Sprint Team, Miles Scotson the Men’s Endurance and Rebecca Wiasek Women’s Endurance. All of these cyclists are equal and perhaps better on their day but were denied for reasons under well communicated selection criteria.

 

Shane Perkins was pressing for selection with impressive times in the last few weeks. Shane Kelly no less suggested he should make the team not just for his experience but for his ability. Perkins said he will accept his Rio Olympics non-selection, as an appeal would have created too much stress.

 

“My reason is that, as a person, I didn’t feel like I wanted to go down that path because it can be a hugely stressful one for myself, my family, my teammates, heading towards Rio.”

 

Kaarle McCulloch, a 2012 London Olympian expressed her immense disappointment and genuinely feels she is an integral part of the Australian team and she is needed to win a medal. She acknowledges she fell short of solidifying her spot with an outstanding timed result in the final selection period and for this reason she too will not appeal.

 

Without feeling too bitter about non-selection, her attitude is “Give the selectors every reason to select me”. Kaarle quotes the Olympic Spirit, “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part; the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well”.

 

Kaarle has fought back from injury, losing her AIS Scholarship, spending her life savings to develop a team to retain her Scholarship, battling depression and all the other issues of wanting to be the best.

 

She understands that we all have choices, some will feel bitter while she sees an opportunity to better herself, to find another way, she is getting faster and stronger and as she says wiser, this is now her motivation for the next Olympic Cycle.

 

Kaarle will travel with the team to Rio as a P (accredited) reserve.

 

In the 2012 London Olympics, Alex Edmondson was selected in the team but didn’t ride, he was determined that this would not be the case in 2016. His motivation has been to be the best in training and the best he can be in preparation and performance. Alex is now an integral member of the Men’s Team Pursuit squad.

 

Miles Scotson is an established member of this squad for the past three years, Team Pursuit World Champion, Australian Junior Time Trial and Road Champion. Champion on and off the bike. Miles has a younger brother Callum. Callum is also a Team Pursuit World Champion and has demanded selector’s attention in the past 12 months. Callum made the final squad, possibly due to the fact that he is a more versatile rider, able to fill any position in the four man event. Mixed emotions in the Scotson family, extremely happy for the youngest in making the Team and extreme disappointment for the eldest. Miles will travel to Rio as P Reserve.

 

For endurance Coach Tim Decker, one of his key objectives was to develop depth in the endurance track squad and to establish sustained success not just in this Olympic cycle but for the following years. For the past three years, Tim has been working with 12 talented cyclists, many of whom are World Champions, Alex Morgan, Mitch Mulhearn, Luke Davidson and Miles Scotson. Two months ago there were 8 serious contenders for the final squad, including a member of the current World Champion squad, Alex Porter, who also failed to make the final selection.

 

Building depth in your squad will always create disappointments, the character of the individual will dictate how they react, however the culture created in the team will support and encourage them to look ahead, their journey is not complete, the next Olympics are four years away, there is time and give the selector’s no reason to overlook you, ask Alex Edmondson.

 

Men’s Track Endurance Squad: Alex Edmondson, Jack Bobridge, Michael Hepburn, Callum Scotson, Sam Welsford, Glenn O’Shea

About David Parker

A keen observer of all things sport and a Swans tragic, David likes to dabble in sporting documentaries including the Max Bailey doco for Fox Footy. David is currently filming a documentary on the Australian Cycling Men's Team Pursuit squad as they prepare for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Comments

  1. jan courtin says:

    No different to life really, Dave, some succeed with sustained effort, others fail, with sustained effort.
    It’s what we do with those so-called failures that matters! Great article.

  2. Thanks Jan, I agree its how you react that’s the key. For some missing out on a Grand Final would be heart breaking but for these cyclists their goals come around every four years.

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